WINNIPEG — Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie head coach Mike Kelly has landed in hot water again, just days before his team’s biggest game of the season.
The CFL fined Kelly $2,000 on Monday for inappropriate comments he made to Winnipeg radio broadcasters after the team’s 48-13 loss to the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday. It came after the Bombers first issued an apology by Kelly for the incident.
Kelly took offence to speculation by football analyst Mitch Zalnasky that maybe the Bombers weren’t focused on the Als because they were thinking ahead to Sunday’s home game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, which will determine if the Bombers make the playoffs.
Kelly angrily told Zalnasky and veteran play-by-play man Bob Irving that his players were focused on the Als and it was “just media bullshit talking about anything else.” He then made a couple more comments and hung up.
In his regular Monday meeting with the media — which was hours before the CFL’s announcement — Kelly brusquely addressed the apology.
“This is how we’re handling this,” Kelly began. “I’m going to make a statement about comments after the game and then we’re going to talk about Hamilton.
“You ask me about anything else about the comments after the game and we’re done. OK? Everybody understand? All right.
“Now, I apologize if people were offended by the language that I used. I will defend my players like a lion protecting its pride.
“People (Zalnasky) that don’t show up to practice that want to make comments about the efforts that are made by our football team will not be tolerated or accepted. It’s that easy. OK?”
The squad played hard against Montreal but “we didn’t get it done.”
“So, if you’re offended, I’m sorry, I apologize, but what I promise you is that our guys are going to go out there this week against Hamilton and we are going to play to the utmost of our abilities and we will prepare this week like no other,” Kelly said.
“So that’s the end of that. Let’s talk about Hamilton because we’ve got a big game coming up.”
Kelly’s latest apology was just one of many controversies that have swirled around the club since he was hired last December after Doug Berry was fired following an 8-10 season.
In January, Kelly announced John Murphy would replace Brendan Taman as the team’s player-personnel director and said Murphy was faced with few scouting reports.
His insult to Taman caused a backlash and Kelly issued a statement with an apology on the team’s website.
At April’s annual fan forum, Kelly made another gaffe when he repeated a fan’s derogatory comment.
The fan called Saskatchewan “the crotch of Canada.” The comment drew laughs, including from Bombers president Lyle Bauer.
Later in the forum, Kelly used the reference in talking about trades he’d made with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The quip caused an uproar in Saskatchewan and Bauer issued an apology on Kelly’s behalf.
Before travelling to a July game in Hamilton, a scout affiliated with the Bombers was caught taking notes during a Ticats’ practice.
The Bombers had director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson comment about it. He said the scout’s actions weren’t directed by the team and apologized.
Kelly also stopped taking callers on his weekly radio show because some were making personal attacks on him.
The Bombers are in the midst of the league’s longest Grey Cup drought. Their last championship was in 1990.